Who, What, When, How, and Why

Adam Hamilton, pastor of United Methodist Church of the Resurrection and author, was introduced to me through a Sunday School study of the lessons found in the resurrection. We used the book 24 Hours That Changed the World and the accompanying DVD study. An additional option that I also read was the devotional of the same name. As a class we spent six weeks watching video clips showing the places that Jesus visited during His last 24 hours of life. We also poured over the study guide discussing the chapters entitled “The Last Supper,” “The Garden of Gethsemane,” “Condemned By the Righteous,” “Jesus, Barabbas, and Pilate,” “The Torture and Humiliation of the King,” and “The Crucifixion.”

Hamilton uses the video to show you the places and objects from Jesus last hours and then the study guide guides the group through questions such as these two from Chapter 2 of the study guide: “How does the Gospels’ portrayal of Jesus’ anguish in the garden of Gethsemane inform or affect your understanding of who Jesus is?” and “What significance do you see in the fact that two of the Bible’s most profound temptation stories take place in a garden?” The author also asked you to imagine that you were the Sanhedrin, Pilate, Barabbas and discuss if you would react the same way. This book was very powerful! It also inspired me to want to read more of Adam Hamilton.
The next book of his that I read was Why? Making Sense of God’s Will. In this book, he discusses the fear and anger many feel when prayers go unanswered, the world feels as though it is spinning out of control, and it seems as if evil has taken up residence in our neighborhoods. Many times we have cried out to God for help and answers asking “Why?” We question why there is evil, why do children have to die, why did our loved ones have to suffer, but most of all we want to know why there is any suffering if we are His children. However, Hamilton shows that God never promised us smooth sailing but He did promise that He would be there. Hamilton also illustrates that though there may be crying at night, there is always joy in the morning. For every story of pain and crying in the Bible, there is also a story of joy in the shelter of God’s love and protection. Another great read by Adam Hamilton.

The following is a listing of other books written by Adam Hamilton that is available through Cokesbury at http://www.cokesbury.com.

When Christians Get it Wrong
Enough: Discovering Joy Through Simplicity and Generosity
Catch: Attracting and Connecting Visitors
Selling Swimsuits in the Arctic: Seven Simple Keys to Growing Churches
Christianity’s Family Tree: What Other Christians Believe and Why
Confronting the Controversies: Biblical Perspectives on Tough Issues
Making Love Last a Lifetime: Biblical Perspectives on Love, Marriage, and Sex
Christianity and World Religions: Wrestling with Questions People Ask
Seeing Gray in a World of Black and White: Thoughts on Religion, Morality, and Politics
Variety of Ministry Guides


Sisters Around the World

Exodus 22:22 in The Message says “Don’t mistreat widows or orphans. If you do and they cry out to me, you can be sure I’ll take them most seriously; I’ll show my anger and come raging among you with the sword, and your wives will end up widows and your children orphans.” Unfortunately, those in homes and countries where God is not the authoritative voice do not follow this law. In countries such as India, Pakistan, and Africa many women are subject to horrors that we can never fully comprehend. Young girls are sold into brothels. Women become pariah in their villages due to a fixable medical condition known as fistulas (an abnormal opening in the vagina that connects it to another organ such as the bladder or colon). Women are killed or raped in the name of honor.
Inside my home and community, none of these atrocities are commonplace. I have heard about some of it through news reports, but nothing to the extent that I learned while reading Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. I have also been asked to help women and children through various charities over the years. I always rationalized that I could not afford to help. I now realize that I cannot afford to turn my head. Even if I can only add my voice to those raised in offense, then my voice shall resound with the others.

The authors wrote this book in a manner similar to a documentary. One chapter explains the “issue” and one highlights a “solution.” The women interviewed leave you both crying for their pain and shouting in exhilaration for the successes that have been described. I cannot imagine anyone who can read this book and not be changed in some way. For me, it has made me more aware of how lucky I am to be an American Christian woman. It has also made me aware of ways that I can help beside charitable giving. As I said before I can add my voice those who are fighting for protection from violence against women. Read this book and join the raised voices!

Sightings of Loving Relationships

“God calls us to be in relationship with others.” I have heard this said time and time again. Truthfully, it is hard to not be in relationship with others. Even if it is only a relationship with the computer-generated operator at the utility company or the clerk at the local grocery store. However, many of us have difficulty in seeking, attaining, and maintaining quality, long-term relationships with others. Familial relationships are even tepid at times and for some downright boiling. Kerry and Chris Shook have addressed the issue of relationship healing and enhancement for all in their book Love at Last Sight: 30 days to grow and deepen your closest relationships.
For me, relationships have been what I seek and struggle with at the same time. I always found myself able to find a relationship with others, but acquiring healthy long-term relationships have been difficult. I eagerly awaited this book hoping that it would open the doors, window, and closets of my inability to remain in relationship with others on a healthy level. What I have found is a valuable resource for this task. One caveat though – it is not a quick-fix remedy! In order to truly understand the information that the authors have given, I believe that you must read this book through a couple of times and journal your thoughts and answers to the questions/activities posed at the end of each chapter.

In a society of electronic everything, the art of communication is becoming lost. We believe that “friends” on Facebook constitute true relationships. Meaningful, satisfying relationships require more than an occasional quip on a Facebook wall. The Shooks have outlined a 30-day program that guides the reader through steps to develop the four relational arts that they say has been forgotten but are quite powerful. They are the art of being there, the art of acting intentionally, the art of risking awkwardness, and the art of letting go.

Another cliché that I have heard quite often has been “I love you more today than yesterday.” Kerry and Chris Shook’s title says more than mere words – love at last sight – each moment that you spend with the people are most important to you should be better than the last. If we live this way, then, as the Shooks say, when we reach The Day our relationships will be the best that they can be. I know for me, I would love to know that each day with my friends and family is an improvement on the day before. That my love and connection is improving. That if it is the last time that I seem them, I am not leaving them to wonder if my love and the relationship with them was real.

I received this book for review from WaterBrook Multnomah for free.

You can purchase this book at http://www.praisesonline.com